Cassie squinted, as she tried to avoid the glare of the sun. This proved to be pretty much impossible, but she wasn’t sure what she expected given the fact that she was currently in the middle of the desert. And it was summer.
She decided right then and there that she hated the heat. It didn’t matter how Vegas was ‘fun’ and ‘amazing’ and whatever else her mother came up with. Nothing could detract from the ever present, ever sweltering heat.
Thankfully, Amelia was a serial nomad so Cassie wouldn’t be forced to spend too long in this godforsaken wasteland. Of course, one could argue that any amount of time was too long, but Cassie had learned to be patient when it came to her mother. Cassie didn’t know why they were constantly moving, but at age twelve, she had long since accepted it as a way of life. At least for her.
“Cassie?” her mother’s familiar voice called out into their backyard. The term backyard was relative however since they were currently living in a trailer. “Can you do me a favor, sweetie?”
Cassie gave a small huff of annoyance as she turned around to face her mother. “What?”
“Can you run to the market?” Amelia asked, wiping her hands on a towel. “We’ve run out of milk and I need it to finish cooking dinner.” Amelia reached into her apron and pulled out a five dollar bill.
The blonde pre-teen walked over to her mom to grab the money and swiftly left the trailer park, heading toward the nearest store. Anything was better than her stale boredom. At least they hadn’t moved in the middle of the school year this time. There was nothing she hated more than being the perpetual ‘new girl’.
Cassie hummed lightly as she grabbed a carton of milk and paid. She stepped outside and turned to head home. “Oomph!” she cried out as she ran into something much taller and more solid than herself. She dropped her shopping bag as she bounced off of whatever it was she ran into.
“Watch where you’re going,” a male voice sneered from above her.
Cassie craned her head upward and sneered. “You watch it, pal.” She looked down and groaned as she noticed that her carton of milk had exploded upon being dropped on the cement. “You owe me another carton of milk,” she grumbled.
The strawberry blond man looked down at her with a glare. “What was that? I don’t owe you anything. You need a pair of glasses, kid.”
The small blonde sputtered indignantly. “I am not a kid!” she stated firmly, resisting the urge to stomp her foot angrily. “And I do not need glasses. Maybe you’re the one who needs glasses, old man,” Cassie sneered.
The man’s jaw clenched and genuine anger flared into his eyes. For a second, Cassie felt a chill of fear make its way down her spine, but she just tossed her head back and glared right back.
“I think its time someone showed you some manners.” Before Cassie could scream out, the man gripped her arm and in a blur of motion, Cassie soon found herself in a secluded alleyway several blocks from the store.
“How did you…” Cassie asked, trailing off in confusion as she took a look at her surrounding. How did they move so fast? Cassie turned to look at him but bit off a startled scream when she saw his visage. His eyes were dark and veined and his mouth was open, baring sharp fangs.
The minute the scream left her throat, he moved in another blur of motion. She wasn’t sure how it happened, but one second he was standing in front of her and the next he had picked her up and buried his face in her neck. It took her several seconds to catch on to what was going on but when she did, she began to fiercely struggle. She wedged her hands between their bodies and tried to shove him away, but it did no good. She bent her knees to place her feet flat against the alley wall, hoping to push off of it and gain enough momentum to break away, but again he didn’t budge.
Just as her body began to beg for sleep and her eyes began to flicker shut, she gave one last ditch effort at pushing him away. Something odd happened. It felt like there was a tug deep inside her body and suddenly she was free. Without the man holding her up, she fell to the ground in a painful heap. It was only once she saw the man in front of her, staring at her with surprised eyes and his mouth coated in blood, that she realized that her neck even hurt.
Cassie reached a hand up, but pulled away with a wince at the throbbing pain. She looked down and noticed that her appendage was coated with blood. “You bit me?” she asked in dazed confusion.
“Yes,” the man answered, getting up from where he had been pushed. His eyes started to lose their surprise and instead began staring at her in re-evaluation. “This is interesting.”
“What is?” Cassie asked, leaning her head back against the wall in an effort to keep her eyes on the man while still resting. She wanted to sleep. Her body begged for rest. She mentally noted that it was probably the blood loss. “Your freaky as fuck interest in biting little girls? ‘Cause I already knew that.”
The man gave a warm chuckle; a totally inappropriate sound given that he had just attacked her. “No, that’s actually rather normal for me.” He ignored Cassie choked sound of surprised horror. “Minus the little girls bit. I prefer my meals to be older. Early twenties, actually. But, no. I was referring to that bit of magic you just did.”
Cassie would have screamed and ran if she had the energy. It was bad enough that this freak had attacked her, but to know that he did it frequently? What, did he think he was some sort of vampire or something? “Magic?” she asked instead. “God, you’re genuinely out of your mind,” she realized. She had hoped for crazy-anger because at least then she had a chance of survival if he felt remorse afterward – at least that was what all the cop shows said. But if he was genuinely buckets-o-crazy then she was never getting out of this alive.
God, and the last conversation she’d had with her mother had been about milk. Those were terrible last words.
“No, actually, I’m not.” The man squatted down in front of her and reached out for her.
Cassie flinched in fear, but had no energy to do anything more. She was surprised when all he did was reach out to gently turn her head, giving him a good view of her wound.
“Hmm. I got you good,” he muttered, a hint of pride in his voice before he gave a small sigh. “Course I wish I knew you were a witch before I took a chunk out of you. Ah well.”
Cassie wanted to ask what he was talking about. Magic? Witches? Did he actually expect her to buy any of that? But before she could open her mouth to ask, her eyes widened in horror. His face had once again changed into that of a monster’s and she wondered for a moment how she could have forgotten that his face had transformed before she was attacked. Just as she was about to reevaluate her opinions on the reality of monsters, he bit down on his own wrist and held the gaping wound to her lips.
She naturally turned her head away from the blood, trying desperately to resist the urge to lick her lips clean given that they were currently coated in the substance.
The man gave an impatient sigh and reached out and forcefully turned her head back to his bleeding wrist, giving her no choice. “Drink,” he demanded. When Cassie still refused, he reached out to plug her nose. Cassie continued to resist but soon began thrashing, fighting for air. After another minute, her mouth opened in a desperate attempt for air. She received the much needed oxygen, but not without several mouthfuls of blood to go with it.
In an instant, the wrist was gone and Cassie was left choking on air and blood, gagging desperately as her body begged to throw up. She managed to keep that nausea down and after a moment, calmed enough to glare up at the man. “You are some sick freak,” she grunted out through tearing eyes. If he was going to kill her, then she might as well tell the bastard what she really thought of him.
“Maybe,” he admitted with a casual shrug. “But at least I know who and what I am. Which is more than I can say for you. Tell me, what is it like to walk around knowing that you’re different from everyone else, yet not knowing why?”
Cassie flinched. How did he know about that? How could he possibly know how she felt? Was there anyway that his words held truth? No, it was impossible. And yet, Cassie couldn’t help but remember his monstrous visage; he had fangs and veined eyes. How was that possible? “What do you want?” she asked instead.
The man shrugged. “At the moment, I’m more interested in what you want. And how I can help you get there.”
“Why would you want to help me? You tried to kill me,” she pointed out.
“And yet I didn’t. In fact, I healed you when I didn’t have to. I could have left you for dead.” Cassie looked at him in confusion, causing him to smile lightly. “Check out your throat.”
The blonde girl’s hand automatically reached up toward her wound. Her eyes widened when she felt smooth skin underneath the sticky coating of blood. Delayed, her brain suddenly caught on to the fact that her neck was no longer in pain. “What did you do? How did you-”
“I think it’s time I tell you about the truth about the world,” the man said. “You see, vampires are real. Werewolves are real. And witches, like yourself, exist. There are a whole host of other creatures out there that live side by side next to humans with no one any wiser to it.”
Cassie swallowed hard at the words he said. One the one hand, how was she meant to believe any of this? It was utter absurdity. On the other, how could she just ignore all the evidence that had been placed before her? His face, her neck, the healing… It just kept piling up.
“Who are you?” she finally asked.
The man smirked and squatted down so that they were face to face. “My name is Klaus.”
A while later, Cassie found herself slowly walking home, accompanied by the very man who had so viciously attacked her. She wondered if this happened often to vampires because it had certainly never happened to her before. “Are you sure?” she asked for what felt like the millionth time, still unable to believe it.
Klaus gave a small sigh and she got the feeling that he would have rolled his eyes if he hadn’t been above that. “Yes, Cassie, I’m certain. You are a witch.”
“But how do you know?” she insisted.
“Magic,” Klaus deadpanned. At Cassie’s disbelieving look, he chuckled. “No, really. You used magic on me. Do you remember when I had you pinned to that alley wall?”
“No,” Cassie replied sarcastically. “I’ve completely forgotten in the last twenty minutes since it happened.” She knew that getting sassy with the homicidal vampire was a bad idea, but she just couldn’t help herself. Her mom said that Cassie’s mouth liked to run away without her brain, and she was mature enough to admit that her mother was right.
Klaus, meanwhile, was uncertain whether to chuckle at her cheeky response or glare angrily. Instead, he opted to simply ignore the reply. “You were trying to shove me away and failing quite miserably. It’s to be expected; no human can go up against a vampire in terms of strength and win. But at the last minute, you managed to accomplish just that. Therefore, magic,” he explained.
“How do you know it wasn’t something else?” Cassie continued to question. “Maybe I’m not a witch, maybe I’m… well, I don’t know. But something.” Cassie was still new to the supernatural world and wasn’t sure what was out there. How was she supposed to separate fact from fiction? The myth about vampires burning in the sun was obviously crap since Klaus was currently walking down the streets of sunny Las Vegas with her.
“If you were something else, I think you’d know. There are very few creatures that are capable of being so similar to humans that they don’t even know themselves that they are not. If you were a vampire, you would have to have died. If you were a werewolf, you would have to have committed murder. So unless there’s something you haven’t told me – a literal body in your closet, perhaps – then you are, in fact, a witch,” Klaus stated firmly, finally fed up with Cassie’s doubts.
Cassie paused, taking a moment to allow his words to soak in. Klaus stopped too, choosing to stare at her as though she were some sort of fascinating specimen. Cassie nibbled on her lower lip as she pondered. It felt like the world had tilted off it’s axis and no one had noticed but her. How could the world keep spinning like everything was normal when vampires, witches and werewolves were real?
“So, what now?” she asked softly as she began to walk once more, this time going at an even slower pace. She was almost home, but she wanted more time to talk to Klaus. It was hard to believe that she wanted to spend time with someone who attacked her and tried to kill her, but her need to know was too great; her curiosity needed to be satisfied. Her mother always warned her that curiosity was Cassie’s most dangerous trait. Cassie had never really understood what that meant until now.
“I would like to train you,” Klaus offered, uncharacteristically magnanimous.
Cassie looked at him suspiciously. She had only known Klaus a few scant minutes, but even she could tell that he was being abnormally nice. Klaus was not a nice guy. Nice guys didn’t try and kill little girls. Therefore, the question became: “Why?” she asked warily.
He shrugged in what was meant to be a casual gesture however the amused smirk gave away his true feelings. Cassie amused him like no other. Some way, some how, she managed to get him, understand him. At least enough to know better than to trust him. Which, to be quite honest, was about as far as anyone tended to understand him. “An unskilled witch is a danger. If people find out about your magic, it won’t be long until they figure out what other supernatural creatures are real,” he said, starting out simply. “That being said, having a witch indebted to me can only help in the long run. Especially one as powerful as you.”
“And I’d be indebted to you because you helped me learn magic?” Cassie asked. “Maybe I’ll just learn it on my own,” she challenged.
“You’re certainly welcome to try,” Klaus offered knowingly. “But there is a lot of false information in the world and a lot of dangerous magic. It would behoove you to take me up on my offer.”
Cassie once more began to worry her lower lip, a nervous habit she had picked up from her mom. “How can you teach me?” she finally asked, seeing no other alternatives. She wanted to learn. She had to. The feeling burned inside of her like hot coals. She was different than the others; special. She had to know more. “You’re not a witch,” she stated with some certainty, but there was still a sliver of question there. She assumed he wasn’t a witch, but she didn’t know that.
Sensing that hidden question, Klaus smirked. He knew he had her. Her curiosity would be her downfall. Now that he knew her weakness, he would use it against her. “No, I am not. I am a hybrid; half vampire, half werewolf. The only one of my kind. But the werewolf side of me was locked away under a curse. I’ll get to that later.” There, that was enough information to keep her curious about him for quite a while. “As for how I can teach you, I have been around for a very long time and have known many witches. I’ve picked up a few things; enough to get you started, at least. And once you’ve progressed, I can introduce you to more witches that you can learn from.” And there was the carrot to his stick. Yes, Cassie didn’t trust him, probably didn’t even like him. He was dangerous. But if she put up with him, she would get to learn magic and meet other witches.
The subtle bribe was too much for Cassie to take. “I’m in,” she agreed, unaware of Klaus’ growing satisfaction. He had her snagged. Now all he had to do was endear himself to her and he would have a willing witch at his beck and call.
This was a rare opportunity, one that he loathed to give up. Sure, he had witches working for him, but mostly out of fear or lust for power. They had all grown up hating vampires, as all witches were taught from birth. But here was a little baby witch who had no idea who or what she was and didn’t have any sort of preconceived notions about him. If he could mold her correctly while she was still a kid, he would have a trustworthy weapon for decades to come.
“Excellent. We can start now,” Klaus began to say but stopped once Cassie began shaking her head. “What?” he asked in annoyance.
“I have to go home,” she answered. “My mom’s waiting for me.”
“Another witch?” Klaus perked up at the idea.
Again, Cassie shook her head. “Mom can’t be a witch. She would have told me something like that by now if she were.”
The strawberry blond man hummed in thought. “Then you must get your powers from your father,” he finally decided.
Cassie’s eyes went wide at the thought. “My father?” she asked breathily. Her mom never talked about her dad. Amelia said that it was too painful. All Cassie knew was that his name was John and that he died a long time ago, before Cassie was even born. Could it be that her father was a witch and that he had never told her mother? Cassie glowed with happiness and excitement. For the first time, she felt a connection with the man who sired her. “He was a witch?”
“Warlock,” Klaus absent mindedly corrected, the look of contemplation still in his eye. It was certainly possible that Cassie’s powers came from her father, but something still nagged at him. He just got the feeling that there was more to the story than that. And as much as he despised his mother, she was certainly good for one thing and that was his inherited intuition. Gut feelings were never just gut feelings in his family. Klaus knew that he would be doing quite a bit of background checking into this little witch’s family. Sensing Cassie’s inquisitive look, Klaus shook his thoughts off. “Well, then. Let’s get you back to your mother. Wouldn’t want her to worry,” he chuckled. Stopping now had the added bonus of keeping Cassie dangling on a cliff. She now had a connection to her father that she had previously been looking for and the only way to explore it was to continue to come back and see Klaus. Cassie would be desperate for answers and thus willing to do anything to help Klaus. This was working out better than he had planned.
Cassie frowned. She wanted to hear more; learn more. But she also knew that she had to return home. She was already much later than she had intended and knew that her mother must be worried about her. Cassie turned on her heel and continued to walk home, aware of Klaus’ presence as he continued to follow her. Soon, they stood in front of the trailer park where Cassie lived. She watched as Klaus’ eyes assessed the area. She shifted uncomfortably under his judging scrutiny, but said nothing. Her mother had gotten pregnant in high school and barely had her diploma. Amelia was forced to work mediocre, dead end jobs in order to provide for herself and for Cassie. Las Vegas was an expensive city and this was the best Amelia could afford while they were there. Luckily, however, the mother and daughter never stayed in one place long. Hopefully, the next town will be smaller and can afford the family the luxury of a cheap apartment.
Getting off topic, Cassie forcibly dragged her thoughts back to the here and now. “So what happens now?” she asked softly.
Klaus dragged his gaze away from the rows of what quite honestly looked like tin cans. “Now you return home. Find me tomorrow in the alley way from earlier at 1 pm. Do not be late.” Before Cassie could protest, Klaus was gone in a blur of vampiric speed and motion.
Cassie gaped lightly at the empty space before getting a hold of herself. She had to get used to this new supernatural world. She couldn’t keep getting surprised. For some reason, she just knew that having the lower hand would not end well for her when it came to Klaus. Unwittingly, her hand reached up to touch her healed neck, the memory of pain and horror flashing through her mind. No, it would definitely not end well.
The blonde girl gave a sigh and walked to her trailer, her feet taking her there aimlessly. Soon, she was at her front door. She opened the door, knowing that it would be unlocked while her mother was home waiting for her.
“Cassie!” a relieved voice breathed and the next thing Cassie knew, she was wrapped in a warm and familiar embrace. Cassie allowed herself to relax as she fell into her mom’s hug. It had been a long day and she needed the comfort. She could return to being a rebellious pre-teen in a minute. “Where have you been? I was so worried!” Amelia cried softly into her daughter’s blond hair.
“I’m fine, mom,” Cassie finally replied as she extricated herself from the embrace. “Nothing happened.”
“Nothing happened,” Amelia said skeptically. “Then why are you over an hour late and where’s the milk I asked you to buy?”
Cassie blinked in surprise before looking down at her hand as if surprised not to find a gallon of milk in her grasp. “I forgot,” she replied honestly. She had dropped it when she bumped into Klaus and despite her determination to get the hybrid to pay for a new one, it had all fallen to the wayside in the wake of her attack and subsequent revelation.
“You forgot,” Amelia said flatly, her arms crossing in anger as the worry and fear disappeared and made way for fury. “I was so worried about you and you’re telling me what exactly?”
The blonde girl shrugged lightly as she studiously avoided meeting her mother’s gaze. “I was on the way to the market when I met a new friend. We started talking and I didn’t realize the time until a little while ago. I knew that you would be worried, so I came back. I forgot about the milk.” Cassie tried to tell as much truth as possible while still completely hiding all the important bits. It suddenly occurred to her that perhaps she shouldn’t be lying at all. Maybe she should be confessing the truth. If her father was a warlock, maybe her mother would be able to tell Cassie something so that she wouldn’t be forced to rely on Klaus.
Cassie opened her mouth to tell the truth when suddenly another thought occurred to her. If her mother knew about magic, surely she would have told Cassie by now, right? Or maybe that was the real reason that Amelia never wanted to talk about John. Was Cassie’s mom afraid of magic? If she found out, would she fear Cassie too? Would she hate Cassie?
Cassie shut her mouth once more. No. It was better to find out more about magic first. Maybe she could research her father and his family. Maybe she could discover her link to her magic first before discussing it with her mother. What if Amelia didn’t believe Cassie? No, it was better to learn more first. That way, if Cassie did decide to tell her mother, she could do something to show Amelia; to prove that what Cassie was saying was true. Or to fix things if Cassie’s first thought was true and Amelia hated magic…
Shaking her head, she forced herself out of that line of thought. Cassie didn’t know what her family was hiding so it was no use speculating. It was better to just dive in head first and worry about the consequences later. Despite her deep wariness of Klaus, she felt that he would indeed help her on this like he promised. For now, she would just have to go with her gut.
“Cassie, are you even listening to me?” Amelia asked sternly once she noticed that her daughter appeared to be completely spacing out.
“What?” the blonde girl asked, startled. “Yes,” she lied. “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.” She reached out to give her mother a quick hug before quickly retreating deeper into the trailer. “I’m feeling tired. I think I’m just going to go to bed. Night, mom.”
“But what about dinner?” Amelia protested, but Cassie just waved her mom off. The truth was Cassie was way too wired up to sleep, but she just wanted some peace and quiet away from her mother. She knew that if she had to sit in front of her mom and eat dinner, that Amelia would figure out something was up and would try and grill her. It was better that Cassie shake off her nerves in her room by herself.
As Cassie threw herself back on her bed, she let out a deep breath. Today had started out like any other and yet… it had been a day that changed her life.
She closed her eyes and continued to breathe deeply, trying to calm herself. She couldn’t wait to see Klaus tomorrow. She was so excited to start learning about this new phase in her life.
As she continued to breathe, her eyes began to grow genuinely tired as the adrenaline from the day began to wear off and her limbs began to grow heavy. Her last thoughts before deep sleep were on what magic she would be learning.
“Cassie! Wake up!”
Cassie started awake the next morning, blinking incomprehensively at the door where her mother’s voice was coming from. “Wha…?” she asked blearily, still incoherent from sleep.
“It’s almost noon, sweetie. You’ve been sleeping all day,” Amelia called out to her daughter worriedly. “Are you feeling okay? Are you sick?” she asked.
Cassie groaned and fell back into bed. “I’m fine. I’m going back to sleep,” she replied, tugging her blankets back over her head. She heard her mother walk away and closed her eyes, eager for more rest. Cassie was just on the brink of sleep when suddenly her eyes snapped open. “Noon!?” she shrieked and she raced out of bed. She grabbed a hair tie from the top of her dresser and quickly tied her hair back in a messy ponytail as she raced into the bathroom to brush her teeth. She quickly returned to her room and began throwing her clothes around looking for something clean to wear. Cassie glanced over at her clock and winced at the numbers glaring right back at her. She quickly tugged on a pair of ratty denim shorts and a baby blue tank top. She stuck her cell phone in her back pocket and ran out the door.
“Cassie?” her mom cried out in alarm as the blonde whirled right past her mom and out the door. “Where are you going?” Amelia cried out from their trailer door as she watched Cassie hastily make her way out the gates of the trailer park.
“Going to a friend’s,” Cassie cried back, waving her arm in goodbye but not turning around.
“Well, at least she’s making friends,” Amelia murmured as she returned to the house, recalling how much Cassie disliked Las Vegas. “I suppose that’s a good thing.”
Cassie was out of breath by the time she reached the alley way from yesterday. Seeing that it was still empty, she braced herself against a brick wall and tried to regain her breath. She glanced down at her watch to see it was three minutes until one. She had made it on time, but where was Klaus.
Cassie frowned as, for a moment, she wondered if she hadn’t dreamt the whole thing up in her mind. Her hand reached up to feel her neck. She half wished Klaus hadn’t healed her yesterday. If he hadn’t, she would have proof for herself. She would know that it had happened.
Just as the doubts began to truly get to her, she heard the sound of a car coming near. She turned to face the mouth of the alley, hoping that it would be Klaus and her hope was rewarded. Klaus stopped the car right in front and Cassie moved out to the sidewalk when it became clear that he would not be parking or exiting the vehicle. “Get in,” Klaus commanded as soon as she got close enough to hear him.
“What’s up? I thought we were meeting in there,” Cassie asked as she tossed her head to the side to indicate the alley where he had first attacked her.
“Yes. We’ve met. Now get in.” Cassie hesitated, unsure whether it would be safe to get in the car. She bit her lower lip nervously causing Klaus to sigh with impatience. “If I wanted to kill you, I would have done it yesterday,” he said, tapping his fingers irritably.
Nodding in agreement with the thought, Cassie reached out and opened the passenger side door of the large black SUV and climbed in. Soon, they were off. “Where are we going?” she asked, idly running her fingers over the buttons on the door handle. She had never been in a car this shiny and new.
“My apartment,” Klaus replied shortly.
Again, Cassie felt hesitant. Was it really safe to go to the apartment of this virtual stranger? She hardly knew him and what she did know of him told her that he was violent with little care for other’s harm.
Then again, he had made a good point. If he wanted her dead, there was no point in taking her to his place first. He could have killed her yesterday. Or gotten out of his car and snapped her neck today. He seemed like the type to have no problem doing something like that.
She was startled out of her thoughts when Klaus abruptly stopped the car. Looking around, she realized that she was in a private underground car park. At the sound of a car door opening, she turned to face Klaus to find him already out of the car and closing the door. Hastily, Cassie climbed out as well and quickly ran to catch up to the man who was already walking toward an elevator in the back. She followed him inside and watched as he pressed the PH button. She had never been in a penthouse before, but she knew that it was the most expensive apartment of them all. She felt wistful at the notion. She wondered what it must be like for a vampire; to be able to have whatever they wanted, to live forever in luxury.
“Welcome to my home,” Klaus announced as he stepped off of the elevator into an entranceway. “Living room, kitchen, bathroom,” he gestured around. “The rest is off limits.” He quickly shrugged out of his jacket and threw it on the back of his pristine white cloth couch. The whole apartment was sleek and modern, done it blacks and whites with only a few red accents. To be honest, she thought it fit the vampire image perfectly.
Following Klaus’ lead, she sat on the couch and turned to face him, waiting patiently. She had been high on nerves yesterday and today, but the car ride had calmed her down. She didn’t really know Klaus, but she had always been good at reading people – a skill that came from being the constant new girl at school – and she could tell that he had a razor temper. Yesterday, she had noticed that but had flagrantly danced over the line over and over again. Today was a new day however. She needed Klaus. She needed to know what he knew. It was best that she keep on his good side as much as possible until she no longer needed him. Of course, escaping from his grasp would prove to be another problem, but she would cross that bridge when she got to it.
Seeing how cooperative Cassie was being caused Klaus to smirk. He gave a small nod of acknowledgement for her actions before standing up to retrieve a book that had been left on the kitchen counter. He returned to the couch and handed it over. “This is one of the many grimoires that I have collected over the years,” he said. There was something in his tone of voice that made Cassie certain that the way he had collected them was through the death of their owners. With a small shiver, she reached out and took the book, hardly paying attention to Klaus as he returned to the kitchen, too focused on the book in front of her.
She flipped to the first page, her eyes skimming through it. It was a list of herbs – no, ingredients for a spell. On the bottom was a line of Latin with a poorly drawn picture of a flame next to it.
“It’s a spell for starting a fire,” Klaus spoke over her shoulder, startling her. Turning her head to face him, she blinked at the water bottle he held out to her. She reached out and slowly took the offered beverage as he came around to sit back down next to her, his own water in hand. “This book has got a good foundation for magic. Not much use for it otherwise.” He shrugged. It had no dark spells or ancient magic. The witch he had stolen it off of had been weak and unable to do much beyond the simplest of spells. He had been half tempted to throw the book away and yet he never had. That decision had come in handy today. “I’ll show you how to read and interpret the book. Once you know how to start, the rest you can learn by yourself from the book. It should take you a couple of weeks to master the spells. By then, I will have contacted a few of my witch friends and made arrangements for you to learn under them.”
“How?” Cassie asked. “My mom…” Her question trailed off.
Klaus shrugged easily. “Vampires have certain persuasive qualities,” he replied. “Just let me have a chat with her.” Cassie’s eyes widened in fear. It was one thing for her to endanger her own life, and there was no arguing that Klaus was a danger, but for her to risk her mother’s? As if sensing her thoughts, Klaus put a surprisingly calming hand on her thigh. “Relax, luv. Just a bit of compulsion. No harm.”
“Compulsion?” Cassie asked.
“It allows a vampire to control a human. I can make your mother think she’s sending you off to summer camp when in fact you will be training with my witches.” He allowed Cassie a moment to absorb his words. “What do you think?”
Cassie nibbled on her lip in hesitation, but they both knew what her answer was going to be. “I’m in.”